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NHS IVF no longer available in county that pioneered it

11 September 2017
Appeared in BioNews 917

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)  has removed funding for free IVF treatment, despite being the county where the procedure was first developed 40 years ago.

It is the third CCG in the UK to remove NHS funding for IVF, following Essex and Croydon. Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG estimates that the move will save £700,000 a year.

Dr Mike Macnamee is CEO of Bourn Hall Fertility Clinic in Cambridge, where the world's first IVF techniques were developed (see Call to remember 'forgotten' IVF pioneer in this week's BioNews). He told Cambridge News: 'It is very sad that the CCG has decided to cut all funding for IVF as we know this will be devastating to many people. Infertility is a recognised disease and impacts the quality of life for those affected and their wider families.'

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends that three courses of NHS IVF treatment should be offered to women under the age of 40.

Another concern shared by Dr Macnamee is that reductions in NHS provision would lead to more patients seeking treatment overseas, where treatment is cheaper. Differences in regulation may also make multiple births more likely.

'People think "twins, that's a bonus",' he said. 'But it isn't really, because usually twins or triplets are born early and may have other complications.'

'IVF is more expensive in the UK than other countries because of strict regulations ensuring very high standards of expertise and care. Removing the funding will encourage more people to go overseas, increasing the chance of multiple births…Just three sets of triplets will wipe out any saving,' said Dr Macnamee.

Dr Gary Howsam, chair of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG, told the BBC that it was financially necessary to suspend NHS IVF funding and that the move was 'one of the hardest decisions we've had to take'.

'I think there's a recognition that the NHS funding situation is desperate in our region,' he said. 'The CCG has finite resources to fund a whole range of health services and treatments. We need to save £46.5 million this financial year, and so we have had to review all areas of our spending and to make some difficult decisions.'

Doctor at world’s first IVF clinic slams Cambridgeshire funding cuts
Cambridge News |  8 September 2017
Free IVF no longer offered in county where it all began
BBC News |  6 September 2017
Funding cut prompts reassurance on fertility service
Cambridge Network |  6 September 2017
Postcode lottery of fertility treatment in our region is laid bare as free IVF scrapped in county where it all began
Eastern Daily Press |  7 September 2017
12 July 2021 - by Georgina Al-Badri 
NHS-funded IVF treatment will soon be reinstated in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, four years after suspension of funding...
7 June 2021 - by Blair Sowry 
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group has announced it will be reviewing its 2017 decision to discontinue funding for IVF treatment...
12 August 2019 - by Dr Maria Botcharova 
The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group has decided to withdraw NHS-funded fertility services after a temporary suspension in 2017...
11 December 2017 - by Hane Maung 
Infertility affects one in seven couples in the United Kingdom. Currently in England, state-funded treatment for infertility is available under the NHS, although availability varies across different local clinical commissioning groups. Depending on the kind of infertility, treatment may include medical interventions, surgical procedures, and assisted reproductive technologies...
9 October 2017 - by Georgia Everett 
For the first time couples in Ireland will be eligible for financial aid for fertility treatments, after the Government signed off new proposals last week...
14 August 2017 - by Dr Kimberley Bryon-Dodd 
Funding cuts by the UK's National Health Service has meant that 13 areas in England have restricted or halted IVF treatment since the start of 2017, according to Fertility Network UK...
7 August 2017 - by Sarah Pritchard 
Clinical Commissioning Groups in the Bristol region are the first to propose restricting NHS-funded IVF treatment to women aged 30 to 35 years...
27 March 2017 - by Rikita Patel 
New patients referred for infertility treatment by their doctors will now have access to three cycles of IVF on the NHS in Scotland...
20 March 2017 - by Sarah Pritchard 
Croydon has become the first Clinical Commissioning Group in London to cut funding for all IVF treatment, other than in 'exceptional circumstances'...
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